Why was U-CARE started?
The internet has become a natural part of our everyday lives and most people use it daily for a variety of purposes. The purpose of U-CARE is to offer internet-based psychosocial support and psychological self-help to all those who need such help because of a physical illness, no matter where in Sweden they live and no matter what kind of psychosocial resources are available to them locally.
What is U-CARE?
U-CARE was started in 2010 and is one of the Swedish government’s strategic research programmes. In U-CARE we study how people suffering from physical illnesses, and their significant others, are affected psychosocially, and the kind of help they need to deal with various emotional and mental health problems that may arise. We also develop psychosocial and psychological self-help programmes for these individuals. Furthermore, we are working to develop and continually improve the U-CARE-portal, an internet platform via which we are able to offer, and study the effect of, the self-help programmes.
Where are we now?
Since the programme began, we have developed various self-help programmes as well as the U-CARE Portal, and have started a number of studies designed to examine the effect of these programmes. The programmes have been developed as a result of earlier research and in collaboration with representatives of various groups of participants.
Initially, our work has been on adolescents and adults suffering from cancer, parents and siblings of children with cancer and patients who have suffered heart attacks. Furthermore, we currently have four ongoing so-called associated studies on the U-CARE Portal, which deal with fear of giving birth, prevention of recurrent depression, postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder following childbirth, and pelvic pain during pregnancy. Further studies will be started up within the next year.
In U-CARE we are also engaged in providing education at various levels. Among other things, we have developed university courses on psychosocial care in the interactive society, eHealth and mHealth, and implementation of complex interventions, which we offer at undergraduate, graduate, and/or postgraduate levels.
Where are we going?
Our objective is to implement the self-help programmes we develop in the regular healthcare system if they prove to be clinically effective. It is our hope that this will lead to a reduction in suffering and economic costs for individuals as well as a reduction in costs for society as a whole. We are also working to include more studies in our research programme, so as to increase our international collaboration and to make an impact in various educational programmes. In order to make what we do relevant for the people our research concerns and for the health service itself, we involve target groups and representatives of the healthcare system in all parts of our activity.